Is Cedar or Composite Decking Better with Dogs?


You have a dog, and you want a deck. Which is decking is better for a dog, cedar or composite? That is what we are going to compare, cedar vs composite decking but not in the broad comparison between the two decking’s but focus on the dog concerns. Dogs have claws, get muddy and poop and pee. Will cedar or composite decking hold up better against these?

But let’s not forget our best friends, precisely their paws. You can slip on shoes whenever you stroll out on the deck, but not your best friend. She’s going barepaw almost every time. Which decking will give her less splinters and not burn her feet? For she can enjoy the deck as much as you do. Is decking is better for a dog’s paws, cedar or composite?

Capped composite decking is more resistant to dog claws, urine and feces than cedar decking. Regarding your dog’s paws, capped composite decking has fewer splinters than cedar decking, but cedar is cooler and less likely to burn your best friend’s paws in the sun.

Well, when comparing the two deckings capped composite is the clear winner. Winning three out of the four categories as being the most dog proof and friendly decking. But let’s look a little more into the details of why composite decking is better than cedarOpens in a new tab. for a dog.

Before we get too far in our comparison, not all composite decking is created equal. Each manufacturer has a slightly different process and mixes, which will impact results. But regarding dogs and decking, capping of the composite is critical.

The durable polymer shell is the real hero here protecting the decking.

Without this vital component, composite decking does not fair much better than cedar decking. A large dog’s claws will easily scratch an uncapped composite decking. Without the cap, the wood fibres will readily soak up the dog’s urine and emit a terrible odour in the sun. The only advantage un-capped composite has over cedar decking is fewer splinter.  

But fortunately, most new composite decking is capped. It has been a long time since I last installed uncapped composite decking. It’s the new standard for composite decking. Therefore, it is the composite deckingOpens in a new tab. we will compare with cedar.

Is cedar or composite decking more resistant to a dog’s claws?

As Matt Risinger quickly shows in this video, TimberTech composite decking is more resistant to scratching than cedar. The marks clearly showing on the cedar decking.

This is always one of my worries when building installing cedar decking. It has a beautiful wood look, but a screw or tool accidentally dragged over it will easily scratch it. It takes very little pressure. A dog with any weight will quickly scratch cedar decking. Even just strolling on the deck, let alone sprinting after a squirrel in the yard.

“I purchased Trex decking for my previous home. It held up well and we had a 130 lb bull mastiff and 2 Great Danes, 110 and 125 lbs. It had about 7 years of use before we moved.”

RedditOpens in a new tab.

Wow, that’s a fantastic testimony. I have met some Great Danes in my life. They remind me more of horses than dogs in size. If Trex decking lasts seven years under their claws, it’s one scratch resistant decking.

“TimberTech decks are scratch resistant, not scratch proof, so we can’t guarantee that Buster will never scratch a TimberTech deck, but we can recommend a few specific decking options that have the most scratch resistance.”

TimberTechOpens in a new tab.

Not quite as bold statement, but I think it is more consistent with reality. Unfortunately, I have had to deal with scratched composite decking before. As Matt Risinger showed in the video, a heat gun can work miracles if your dog accidentally scratches the decking. Which is good if it happens.

 “On one deck, my clients had two standard poodles,” says Edwards. “These were big, excitable dogs, and the deck looked just fine.” PVC-capped composites such as TimberTech’s XLM line tend to be the most scratch-resistant.”

Landscaping NetworkOpens in a new tab.

There you have it. Quality PVC capped composite deckingOpens in a new tab. will hold up great against a dog’s claws. I cannot say the same for cedar decking.

Is cedar or composite decking more resistant to a dog’s urine?

Regardless of which decking you have, leaving pee on your deck is a bad idea. Even a small pool of urine sitting on the deck will create a terrible smell. If your dog accidentally pees, spray it off immediately with water. All decking will stain less if immediately cleaned off.

“capped composite decking are stain resistant and can be easily hosed down to clean up a mess. Wooden decks can be stained easily, so avoid this type of decking if your pooch is prone to piddles.”

City Wide Sun DecksOpens in a new tab.

I could not say it better City Wide; wood absorbs, cap seals the decking. There is a reason why cedar decking needs to be regularly stainedOpens in a new tab. or sealed. Cedar decking will quickly absorb dog urine, permeating the decking and smelling for a long time. Even annual sealing of cedar decking will not do enough to keep the pee out.

If your dog is prone to pee on the deck, install capped composite decking. But our furry friend does more then just pee.

Is cedar or composite decking more resistant to a dog’s muddy paw?

Similar to urine, the more non-absorbent the decking, the less muddy paws will damage the decking. Your dog will get muddy, that’s a fact of life. Which decking it walks on will determine the look on your face as he runs on your deck.

“Aside from their toilet habits, dogs are inherently messy and if you have a lawn area in addition to a deck you are likely to be challenged by muddy paw prints. Composite boards are significantly less prone to moisture absorption than timber boards. A full clean with a pressure washer every time you are planning to entertain in the garden is therefore not necessary. A simple wipe with a mop and water is all you need to make it pass the rigorous inspections of your guests.”

Architecture Art DesignsOpens in a new tab.

Yes, again, composite decking is better with a dog. A quick spray with a hose and you are done. A cedar deck will absorb that mud, staining the wood.

Now we have discussed how cedar and composite decking will fair under your dog, but how will your dog do on them.

Which decking will give my dog less sliver, cedar or composite?

If the decking doesn’t have slivers, your dog can get them. Composite decking is ground-up wood fibres and plastic with no chances of splinters. That being said, every wood deck should be sanded and barefoot ready. So, chances of your dog getting a sliver from your cedar decking is low but practically zero with composite.

“Slivers can also wreak havoc on paws of all types. Luckily, both vinyl and composite decks are totally splinter-free.”

City Wide Sun DecksOpens in a new tab.

If your comfortable walking barefoot on your deck, so will your dog.

Speaking of barefoot, which is hotter on your dog’s feet, cedar or composite?

Finally, something cedar is better than composite decking for a dog. Cedar decking will be cooler than compositeOpens in a new tab. and PVC decking. The difference in heat will vary by the composite colour and ingredients, but all synthetic decking is hotter than cedar decking.

If you want help finding a cooler decking, Jim Finlay does an excellent study of the different surface temperatures of decking. Click hereOpens in a new tab. to read the article.

Well, there might be one exception to this, just to muddy the water a little. Which if it’s on a composite deck, it will easily wash off. Get it, muddy water? Muddy paws? Composite cleans off better.

Anyways Moisture Shield has introduced a new composite deckingOpens in a new tab. line with CoolDeck® Technology, which looks very promising. If you want to read more about this decking innovation, click hereOpens in a new tab. to go to their website. They may be the one exception making them the clear winner in best decking for dogs.

Even without CoolDeck® Technology if heat is an issue for your dog on your deck. A shade privacy wall will help save his paws or a blanket for him to lay on. Composite decking doesn’t hold heat more than cedar. It transfers it faster, giving that hot feel. Her paws will be fine if she can stand on something cooler. In the shade or blanket on the deck.

Composite is better than cedar decking for Dogs

If given a choice, everything about composite decking is better for your dog than cedar except for the heat. On a hot day, cedar or some shade will be better for him. Enjoy your deck with your best friend.

Ryan Nickel

A Red Seal carpenter, passionate about building decks to be enjoyed.

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